Ashes of the Living

Fiction - Thriller - General
276 Pages
Reviewed on 08/18/2020
Buy on Amazon

Author Biography

John Cox grew up in the Midwest and currently lives in Indiana. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Indiana University where he received an Upcoming Author award for his short story In the Rough. He also received a second Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Indiana Wesleyan.

John lives with his wife, son, and an insane Labrador bent on eating the world. He loves noir and thriller fiction, loud music, and writing at 3 a.m.

For more information, please visit his website at:

    Book Review

Reviewed by Susan Sewell for Readers' Favorite

A Chicago police detective desires revenge on the criminals who killed his family in the exciting crime thriller, Ashes of the Living by John Cox. Detective Tyler Morgan is a tough cop, but when he goes home, he leaves his aggression at work. His home with his wife and daughter is the only place he finds peace and comfort. When the head of a drug organization murders his family, Tyler loses everything that makes his life bearable. Between his lack of sleep and the unending nightmares, the balance between right and wrong is greatly diminished. Converting into one of the criminals he once put behind bars, Tyler begins to pursue those responsible for shattering his soul and his happiness. Putting his career on the line, and not too concerned about justice, Tyler becomes a vigilante as he seeks the blood of those who killed his family.

Ashes of the Living by John Cox is an intense and unforgettable crime thriller. It is a heart-pounding story with explicit and gory details depicting the savagery of both the protagonist and the antagonist. Detective Tyler Morgan's story is shocking, and his psychological decline is realistically represented. The impact of his devastation is heartrendingly real, making his character relatable. Disturbing scenes brimming with brutality, bloodshed, and torture create an electrifying and action-packed novel that kept me on the edge of my seat until the story's explosive conclusion. I recommend this novel to everyone who relishes exhilarating crime thrillers with dubious heroes with questionable ethics. Due to the graphic violent scenes, this book is more suitable for a mature reader.

Viga Boland

Happy endings are the expected conclusion...or what most movie viewers or readers hope for...when an intense, frightening story is over. But, objectively, real life isn’t full of happy endings as Detective Tyler Morgan, the protagonist of Ashes of the Living by John Cox, knows. The best he can hope for after his beloved wife and child are murdered and left to burn is some kind of retribution for the dreadful loss he has experienced, especially when police work has failed to find those responsible. As his rage and determination to find the murderer(s) mount, he moves far beyond caring about happy endings for himself or his future. The only ending Tyler Morgan wants is revenge, and if it means breaking the law to get it, he’s prepared to go rogue if necessary. As far as he’s concerned, everything he has lived for is gone. So if his pursuit of the killers results in his own death, so be it.

The brilliantly conceived plot of Ashes of the Living, despite being heavily narrative, moves along at a suspense-filled pace, slipping in and out of the protagonist’s mind as he embarks on his pursuit of the murderer(s). His search takes him into the bowels of the greedy, deadly world of drug manufacturing. As Tyler Morgan’s rage mounts, so does his female partner’s fear that he might actually find and kill the killers and end his lengthy, unblemished career. But nothing she says can deter him from his mission. And what a bloody mission this turns out to be. While readers will find the intense plot gripping, what stayed with me most was John Cox’s remarkable ability to capture human emotions. Before the murders, the highlight of Tyler’s days was returning to his family at night. Those of us who value our spouses and children will so identify with Tyler’s feelings before the murders, and so deeply feel his rage, sense of emptiness, and - above all - guilt after the murders. He can’t stop berating himself for not being there to save them. These very real human emotions, beautifully explored by the author, make Ashes of the Living a standout. Occasional stomach-turning descriptions, engaging characters, a distinctive mood, and superbly crafted, detailed settings are all brilliantly presented for your reading pleasure. Don’t think twice about selecting this thriller for your next read.

Lesley Jones

In Ashes of the Living by John Cox, one hot summer in Chicago, the city is facing a drug epidemic in the form of designer heroin, Abyss. Detective Tyler Morgan knows the side effects of potential insanity and the growing number of violent murders are linked somehow. As his investigation deepens to find the supplier of Abyss, his life comes crashing down when his family is murdered. Now Tyler has nothing to lose but find the killer and get his revenge. As Tyler's behavior and interrogation techniques become more erratic, his new partner Herrera believes he is unfit for the case. Tyler, however, is getting ever closer to hunting down the madman that took his family and he will not stop until he finds him. Tyler is prepared to risk everything but even he does not realize what danger he is about to encounter.

Prepare yourself for a fantastic, turbulent rollercoaster of a read. This gripping plot is a non-stop mix of action, suspense and emotion. Each of the characters, even the minor ones, have been created with the utmost care and consideration. The antagonists are the most cold-hearted, sadistic characters I have come across in a long time. Tyler is an amazing character, fearless, no-nonsense and speaks from the heart. His heartbreak and grief were so realistic and you can't help but feel his pain. I loved how he interrogated each suspect in his investigation. Some of his lines were pure magic; this was one of my favourites: “Normally, we do need a search warrant, but when you have cocaine plastered all over your shoulders like some amazing case of dandruff, it nullifies the need for one. See you have already broken the law, and you are wearing the goddamn evidence.” The development of his relationship with Detective Herrera, his new partner, was written to perfection. There are so many subplots in this novel but each is as strong as the main storyline. Expect the unexpected throughout Ashes of the Living by John Cox.